Features Don't Win


This is a continuation from my previous post about fast followers.

Several times a week, I hear a pitch from for a company that is fairly similar to existing players in the market.  When I ask the entrepreneur how they expect to win vs. the various competitors, I’ll often hear something like:

“Well, they don’t have feature x, y, and z which has been built into our product from the beginning.”

These same folks usually include some sort of Harvey Ball chart to show how differentiated they are from their competitors.

My advice: if you need a Harvey Ball chart to show how you are different, you aren’t different enough.

In my view, winning as a startup doesn’t have that much to do with individual features.  Features do drive success, but great teams and great product development processes drive features.

I saw a talk a while ago by Mike Maples.  In it, he encourages entrepreneurs to “be different, not better”.  I completely agree.

Being different means being WORSE than competitors in some dimensions.  It’s a very intentional decision to forgo some areas of potential strength and choose the 1 or 2 dimensions that no one else is thinking about and absolutely destroy the competition in those areas.

Some examples?  Tumblr, Zappos, Milo, Polyvore, etc.

Be different.

I completely agree here.  This is the way we think about HomeField in terms of some of the competition.

We actually think of most of our competition as market validation and differentiate ourselves by our lack of features. We see it as a strength that enables HomeField to become the ubiquitous video platform for sports (and achieve some other stealth goals as well).